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NBA-Monday night- Best bets preview

Game of the Night: Celtics at Clippers – 10:35 PM EST

After Boston lost at home to Houston last Sunday, the conversation of this team’s demise began. But then, the Celtics (41-26 SU, 34-32-1 ATS) traveled west and everything changed. It all started with Tuesday’s 128-95 blowout of Golden State, then the Celtics held off the Kings the next night, 111-109 without point guard Kyrie Irving in the lineup.

Irving returned on Saturday night as the Celtics avenged a buzzer-beating loss to the Lakers from last month as Boston pounded Los Angeles at Staples Center, 120-107. The Celtics easily cashed as seven-point favorites against a beat-up and beaten down Lakers’ squad, as Irving torched L.A. for 30 points to knock off old friend LeBron James. Boston drilled 14 three-pointers, including four from Marcus Smart to pick up their first road favorite cover since February 1 at New York.

The Celtics remain in Tinseltown on Monday to face the Clippers (38-29 SU, 39-28 ATS), who have won four straight games. Los Angeles pulled away from Oklahoma City on Friday, 118-110 to cash as short two-point home favorites. The Clippers took advantage of Russell Westbrook and Paul George each fouling out late for OKC, as L.A. converted 31 free throws, including 10 from Lou Williams, who scored 40 points.

The last time the Celtics and Clippers hooked up at TD Garden on February 9, Boston built a seemingly insurmountable 68-40 second quarter advantage. The cardiac Clippers roared back to outscore the Celtics, 70-38 in the second half to shock Boston, 123-112. L.A. cashed as 11 ½-point road underdogs, while the OVER of 228 ½ easily hit in spite of Boston’s scoring woes after halftime. The Clippers captured four straight home meetings with the Celtics before Boston won at Staples last January, 113-102.P

Last season, the Jazz (37-28 SU, 33-30-2 ATS) knocked out the Thunder (40-26 SU, 34-32 ATS) in six games of the opening round of the playoffs. This season, Oklahoma City has picked up revenge against its division rivals by taking the first three meetings with Utah as the teams meet for the final time in the regular season.

The Thunder took care of the Jazz in the first matchup at home in December by nine points, but the last two hookups have been decided by one point each. On February 22 at Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City outlasted Utah in double-overtime, 148-147, capped off by a 45-point effort from Paul George and a game-winning basket by the All-Star in the final seconds. The only bright side for the Jazz (more specifically, their backers) is they covered as four-point underdogs to cash for the first time in the last five meetings.

OKC wraps up a four-game road trip in Salt Lake City after dropping two of the first three contests. The Thunder was blown out at Minnesota to start the swing last Tuesday, while rallying past the Blazers in overtime on Thursday. Billy Donovan’s club fell apart late against the Clippers on Friday to drop to 1-9 ATS the last 10 games, including a 1-5 ATS mark on the highway.

The Jazz ran off four straight wins after the double-overtime setback at OKC, including victories over the Clippers and Nuggets. However, Utah has taken a step back recently by losing two of three, including favorite losses to New Orleans at home and a 10-point defeat at Memphis on Friday. The Jazz have performed well at Vivint Smart Home Arena by winning 14 of the past 17, although they are 0-3 ATS in the last three opportunities as a home favorite.B

Past the top five teams in the Eastern Conference, the two wild card teams that are flying under the radar are Detroit and Brooklyn. The two squads hook up at Barclays Center on Monday as they try to avoid the seventh playoff position, which would likely pit them against the Raptors in the opening round.

The Nets (35-33 SU, 36-32 ATS) return home for one night before hitting the road for a seven-game trip starting Wednesday at Oklahoma City. Brooklyn has bounced back since dropping three in a row as the Nets are riding a three-game winning streak following Saturday’s two-point victory at Atlanta. The Nets have cashed the UNDER in four consecutive games, although Brooklyn topped the 113-point mark in each of the past three contests.

The Pistons (34-31 SU, 33-30-2 ATS) travel to Brooklyn with no rest after blowing out the Bulls on Sunday, 131-108 to cash as nine-point favorites. Detroit moved its winning streak to five games, while the Pistons have 12 of their last 14 contests since squandering a 25-point lead in a home setback to the Clippers in early February.

Detroit and Brooklyn haven’t met since October when the two teams played a pair of games decided by four points. The home team won each time, as the Nets edged the Pistons, 120-119 in overtime on Halloween night, but Detroit cashed as 2 ½-point underdogs.T

Washington and Sacramento are both on the outside looking in with the playoffs one month away. The Kings (33-32 SU, 38-26-1 ATS) have been the most pleasant surprise in the NBA this season and are still hanging around the Western Conference race by sitting four games back of San Antonio for the final playoff spot.

Sacramento continues its four-game Eastern Conference road trip after winning at New York on Saturday, 102-94 to pick up only its second victory in the last six contests (both against the Knicks). The schedule has been tough for the Kings lately as they have lost to the Celtics, Bucks, Clippers, and Warriors since the All-Star break.

The Wizards (27-39 SU, 31-35 ATS) are still alive in the dreadful Southeast division as Washington trails Miami by four games with 16 to go. Washington threw away a golden opportunity in Saturday’s overtime loss at Minnesota as the Wizards blew an early 15-point lead in a 135-130 setback. Washington managed its fourth consecutive cover, while beating a pair of Western Conference squads at home by beating Dallas and Minnesota.

The Kings struggled against the Wizards from 2016 through 2018 by losing four straight meetings, but Sacramento broke through in late October by rallying past Washington, 116-112 at Golden 1 Center. Sacramento outscored Washington in the fourth quarter, 37-27, while cashing outright as 5 ½-point underdogs. The task for the Kings on Monday night is to snap a five-game skid at Capital One Arena dating back to 2014.

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